State Budgets
Budget shortfalls, city defaults & bankruptcies, potential state bankruptcies means the budgets of individual states will impact the economies of the other states and the federal budget/deficit.

Congress Races to Approve Virus-Relief Package

from The Gray Area:
According to The Wall Street Journal Congress is racing to approve a virus-relief package this weekend. Party leaders are pairing the $900B relief measures with a roughly $1.4 trillion annual spending package, squeezing lawmakers to quickly write and approve the bill before government funding expires at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.

Last week, Congress passed a “continuing resolution” — or a one-week extension of government funding. That CR expired at 11:59 pm Friday night so Congress issued another short-term CR to allow time for continued negotiations. Congressional leaders have been working through the weekend on a spending deal—a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill that would run through the end of the fiscal year (October 2021).

This is another example of Congress total incompetence in running the country. Having to race to combine these two financial programs is simply the result of shirked responsibilities before and dug in Congresspeople letting partisan politics take over the needs of the country.

Generally, omnibus bills are bad news. They make it easy to fit a lot of bad things into a large bill. This one is no different. but maybe some of the worst parts holding things up have been excluded this time. What they say is included in the bill:

  • a $900B COVID relief package 
  • a $1.4T spending bill.
  • add $300 to weekly unemployment payments through March 14.
  • a $600 direct check to many Americans, with the size of the check decreasing for people with incomes above $75,000 a year.
  • aid for schools, vaccine distribution and small businesses.
  • extend two other unemployment programs until they begin phasing out on March 14 and end on April 5.
  • a temporary increase in food-stamp benefits.
  • $15 billion for airline payroll support.
  • Roughly $277 billion would go toward the Paycheck Protection Program, the bulk of the $325 billion the bill puts toward small businesses.
  • reached a compromise on the the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers. Under the deal, $429 billion previously provided to the Treasury Department to backstop losses in Fed lending programs would be revoked, and the Fed wouldn’t be able to replicate identical emergency lending programs next year without congressional approval, according to aides familiar with the legislation. But the agreement wouldn’t prevent the Fed from starting other similar programs, a key demand from Democrats.
What may be absent from the bill :
  • a measure allowing businesses to take tax deductions for expenses
  • state bailout relief 
  • surprise billing. surprise billing is a serious issue that impacts the health and finances of millions of Americans, it should be handled separately to allow a full and transparent debate.
We will, as usual, have to wait to see what these negotiations further included or excluded from these two jammed together emergency bills.
from The Wall Street Journal,
Lawmakers work to put finishing touches on roughly $900 billion plan after a deal on Federal Reserve powers clears last hurdle. With a disagreement on the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending powers settled earlier in the weekend, negotiators on Sunday were finalizing details for the rest of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Sunday afternoon that negotiators were hours away from completing the deal. “We are winnowing down the remaining differences,” he said from the Senate floor. “I believe I can speak for all sides when I say that I hope and expect to have a final agreement nailed down in a matter of hours.” More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

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